Spicy + Fresh: Chicken Verde. Made this for dinner tonight and it is excellent. (You might notice it looks very much like some chicken I made before. But its even better.)
Indulgent: Milk Chocolate Ice Cream. Wherein greengeekgirl shares her recipe for delicious chocolate ice cream.
I’ve gotten so many awesome comments on my last post about this, I wanted to update it with a few more tips and a couple of meal ideas!
One thing I totally forgot to mention–in order to get some extra vitamins into your kid’s diet, try juicing. You can get a fairly inexpensive juicer on Amazon.com (this is the one I use and it works great) and juice up some vegetables and blend the juice with fruit juice. You’ll probably want to find a basic recipe to make sure you get the proportions right, but apple, carrot, and pineapple juices, for example, are quite strong and sweet–I imagine banana would be as well, and these are kid-friendly flavors that can balance the flavor of other veggies, like broccoli and spinach. While juicing shouldn’t replace eating fruits and vegetables–the fiber in them is really good for you–it can help to start redeveloping your child’s, your husband’s, or your palate to appreciate fresh over processed and get an extra vitamin boost in the process.
Many people professed their love of veggies in the comments, and noted sadly that they’d had to give up some of their favorite foods because their family just won’t eat it. Definitely don’t do that! Remember when I said I got my hubs to like Brussels sprouts? I didn’t make him try them, or ask him to eat them, or try to hide those in his food–I simply made them for myself, the way that I like them (sauteed in a pan, yums), and he eventually decided to try them to see what I was always fussing about. I offered them to him a few times initially, so he knew the option to try them was always open; after that, I just made them, and ate them, and his curiosity won out. So keep eating your favorite foods! They might wonder what they’re missing.
Finally, a couple of dinner ideas: pasta salad and tacos. These aren’t flashy meals, and they are not intended to be–rather, going incognito, we are able to sneak in a few things that we might otherwise not be able to serve for dinner.
For a pasta salad, if you pick a good macaroni shape (I like to use penne rigate, cavatappi, fusilli or rotini, or bowtie-shaped pasta), cook it, and toss it with some bite-sized grilled chicken and Italian dressing (I make my own at home with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil), you’re probably already going to have a winner with picky eaters. Add any vegetables that you think you can get away with, cut into dice–tomatoes, mushrooms, bell pepper, cucumber, fresh corn. Add some crumbled cheese, if you like, or cheese cubes. Unless you have some particularly tough nuts, the comforting setting of the noodles and the chicken will help the kiddos–and the husband–eat up the veggies, which are cut small enough not to be frightening, along with it. You could even toss in broccoli florets or asparagus tips if you think they would eat them!
Tacos are another great way to get your kids to eat healthy, because they don’t have to be greasy, sopping-ground-beef tacos. In fact, in Mexico, one doesn’t eat ground beef tacos, so don’t be afraid to sub in a healthy meat (although I do still love ground beef tacos, I’ll admit it). When I was a kid, tacos were ground beef, those hard, gross shells out of a box, salsa out of a jar, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and sour cream. Thankfully, America has come a long way since then; buy some fresh corn tortillas, use a more interesting meat (or even do a vegetarian bean base if your kids are meat-picky), and load up on fresh toppings: fresh pico de gallo (tomato salsa), fresh corn salsa, avocado or guacamole, lettuce or raw cabbage, or even something like broccoli slaw, which you can usually find in a bag in the prepared veggie section of your produce aisle. You can still use the cheese and sour cream if needed; if not, squirt ‘em with some lime juice and you’ve got a taco feast!
Look at that veggie abundance. Your kids will be eating healthy chow in no time!
- How to get kids (and other picky eaters) to eat their veggies. (thegreengeeks.wordpress.com)
It’s a struggle that a lot of people are facing these days: after having grown up on processed food, we’re finding out that eating stuff from tin cans, brightly-colored boxes, and greasy fast-food sacks is detrimental to our health, along with smoking, drinking, and all manner of other really fun things. In order to keep ourselves and our families healthy, we’re turning back to fresh foods–including that all-time kid-repellent food, vegetables. (Did I mention this can often be mom-and-dad-repellent, as well?) The only problem with changing our diets is getting our family members to eat the food that’s good for them. Some people are lucky and they have no problems with this. Others of us are not so lucky.
I have to admit that my husband is quite a sport when it comes to eating the food that I cook–if I make it, he’ll try it. Eventually. Sometimes I have to make it two or three or ten times, but he eventually gets curious when I’m enjoying something that much and he’ll eat it. But as Roseanne Conner said, “Do you think he came out of a box that way?” I’ve been wearing him down for years to open up his adventurous nature when it comes to food, and even now, it can be tricky. Recently, for example, we’ve been tackling the issue of eggplant, which my husband swore up and down that he hated. So, I haven’t had eggplant in years–he doesn’t like it, so I don’t buy it. I’ll buy other things that he professed not to like–like Brussels sprouts, one of my favorites–but I can’t for the life of me imagine what I would do with a whole eggplant just for me, so I generally skip it.
A few weeks ago, though, Mr. Geek came home with an eggplant-based pasta sauce. I don’t know if he just wanted to try it or if he just got it to make me happy (aww), but it turned out that he really liked the pasta sauce. So, I started to prod him with a few relevant questions.
“So, how have you had eggplant cooked before?”
“Umm, I dunno.”
“Was it fried or grilled, maybe? Eggplant can be kind of tricky if you don’t cook it right.”
“Uh, I’m not sure how I had it.”
After a minute or two of squirming, he confessed: ”Okay, so, I’ve never actually had eggplant. My dad hated eggplant so I just figured I would too.” A-HA!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the first time my husband has claimed he doesn’t like something, only to figure out that 1) he’s never actually had the food in question or he’s never had it cooked properly, 2) he actually does like it and maybe even loves it. If I left it at “I hate eggplant,” well, I’d never, ever get to cook eggplant again. I had to remain diligent, but I found a chink in the “icky veggies” armor.
For children and other picky family members who aren’t so willing to try new things, you may have to try different tactics to get them to eat their veggies. Don’t worry–I have a whole bag of tricks that you can try. As a person who, myself, grew up largely on processed junk and fast food, I have a wee bit of credibility in this area.
Also? I got my husband to LIKE Brussels sprouts. Yeah, LIKE. So read on.
Tipsy blogging. Dig it, friends. We’re gonna see how this goes.
So, coming home from the bar, we stopped tonight at White Castle because, come on, it’s drunk food. I wasn’t drunk, but I was a little happy, I’ll admit it, and I was hungry, and most importantly, I did not feel like cooking. But my brain nagged at me a little bit. ”You’re never going to drop that depression weight if you don’t start paying some attention to your eating habits,” my brain told me. My brain is right, of course.
I am, however, vehemently anti-dieting. Diets not only do not work, they are psychologically harmful. I’ve lost weight while not on a diet before, and I’ve kept it off the longest and been the happiest when I wasn’t on “a diet.” One doesn’t have to count calories or follow the plan in a book to lose weight and get healthy. So, since I haven’t done a top five in awhile, I thought I’d do my top five ways to get healthy without going on a diet.
1. Exercise/increased activity
Yeah, I know this is on EVERY FREAKING WEIGHT LOSS LIST and it’s not always fun. It’s not fun. But it’s a relatively easy way to drop some pounds if you can get past the mental block of “OMG EXERCISE SUCKS.” Half an hour a day, most days a week, will be a huge improvement toward better health. If you can’t abide going to the gym or sitting on a machine for half an hour, find something that you do like, like walking or some kind of sport. Music or TV while exercising can help a lot. If you’re at a steady weight (meaning, you’re not really gaining weight), adding exercise can tip the scale back into losing weight.
2. Get smaller plates, cups, and bowls
Studies have proven that, if you use smaller plates, bowls, and cups, you serve yourself less–and, more importantly, you’re more satisfied with serving yourself less. To our brains, a plateful is a plateful is a plateful, and unless there is a significant size difference (a saucer vs. a dinner plate, for instance), we’re not going to notice that we have smaller plates, even if we know we bought smaller plates. If you drink a lot of sugary beverages, investing in smaller glasses is important, too; we serve ourselves more when our container is larger, and we also consume more if we’re served more.
3. Incorporate fresh, and if possible, raw (non-starchy) fruits and vegetables
Raw produce not only contains a lot of really great nutrients for our bodies, but it’s also great calorie-wise; produce is naturally low in calories most of the time (exceptions, like avocados, exist), and raw produce doesn’t have any extra sugar or fat calories added in. If you don’t naturally love vegetables, don’t worry–don’t force yourself to eat all kinds of stuff that you don’t like. Pick out the things that you do like and the things that you don’t mind too much–like, if you hate asparagus, but don’t mind broccoli, opt for broccoli and don’t force yourself to eat asparagus. As you eat more vegetables, you’ll grow more accustomed to them and will like them more.
4. Divide your plate into camps
The rule of thumb for using your plate as a dietary guide is to use half for protein and grain, and the other half for fruit and veg. This is way easier than counting calories, helps with portion control, and also helps with correct proportions. (Frankly, since you’re supposed to eat 5-6 servings of grain or something like that, I would probably do like a 40/40/20 split with produce/grain/meat.) This isn’t quite the same as dieting because you’re not stressing over a calorie count or forbidding yourself to eat whole categories of food; it’s just a guideline to help make your meals balanced and still let you eat the food you like. Obviously you want to try to balance your choices, even using this system–this wouldn’t work, for example, if your meals of choice were fried chicken, french fries, onion rings, and vegetables tempura. And, much to my chagrin, macaroni and cheese doesn’t count as a vegetable.
5. Cook at home and develop your cooking repertoire
When you cook at home, you have ultimate control over what goes into your food–that’s a given. If you don’t know how to cook healthy food or what ingredients to use, though, cooking won’t help. Healthy food can be delicious; it doesn’t have to be those stupid “light” recipes that use low-calorie substitutions for real food. We often make Mexican-style tacos at home, with fresh tomato salsa, fresh vegetables, and homemade tortillas; these are actually our preferred way of having tacos, not just something we incorporated to be healthier. Mexican-style tacos don’t use cheese or sour cream, so that takes a lot of the extra calories out; if you use lean meat, that also reduces calories. Really great dish, and naturally healthy without being “diet” food. If I order them out, I may or may not get something with a ton of hidden calories; maybe the meat was prepared with a lot of extra fat, or maybe there’s dairy on them, which bumps up the calorie count.
Knowing how to prepare things in a healthier way that is still flavorful helps, too. Fried chicken is fantastic, but so is chicken sautéed in olive oil, or chicken that has been marinated and grilled. Baked chicken is not terrible, either (I like to use it in chicken salads and stuff). The more you know about cooking, the more you’ll be able to put together meals that aren’t calorie-rich but are still so satisfying that you won’t even care that you changed some of your eating habits.
So, those are my tips on how to lose weight without going on a diet. There are other good ones; making a weekly menu helps me, not buying junk food because I will inevitably eat it all within two days helps, drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice and smoothies helps. Not eating processed foods helps a lot. (And who wants to eat dinner out of a box when you can have a home-cooked meal? Unless you’re my dad, who prefers box mashed potatoes to fresh, weirdo.) Incorporating one or all of these tips will have you on the path to a healthy bod without obsessing over what you can and cannot eat.
(So, I know, I’m no food stylist. It’s been sitting for a bit in the fridge and got wilty. Still delicious.)
Okay, so like–I’m going to fess up about this. I hadn’t planned on it, but I am cursed with a painful need to tell the truth most of the time. Last night, I went to a meeting for Columbus Universitas, and there was pizza. Hot, free pizza. I knew before I got there that I was going to totally cave and eat pizza.
So I ate pizza last night.
Otherwise, I am four days in and totally raw, baby. I’ve eaten lettuce wraps with nut paste and julienned veg, zucchini “pasta” dishes, monster gigantor smoothies, freshly-juiced, uh, juice. I’m damned glad I’m not allergic to nuts, because when I was explaining what I’ve been eating to some friends last night, I kept talking about nuts.
Me: ”I made these cookies with almonds and sunflower seeds. Ooh, and I made this yummy pasta with a nut cream sauce.”
Mr. Geek: ”My favorite were the wraps that you made.”
Me: ”Oh yeah, the vegetables and the nut paste. That was pretty good.”
Friend: ”So… it’s a lot of nuts, huh?”